San Diego fuel pipeline inspection reveals 11 weakest points

Navy claims Miramar pipeline safe to operate

SAN DIEGO - An aging U.S. Navy fuel pipeline buried under the city of San Diego is eroding and losing metal by the minute, according an inspection report obtained by Team 10.

The Miramar pipeline's latest inspection, updated in February, shows seven locations have at least 40 percent metal loss. According to the U.S. Navy, the pipeline can operate safely with up to 80 percent metal loss.

"The pipeline is critical to our mission here in San Diego," Captain Scott Adams, the commanding officer of Naval Base Point Loma, said. He is responsible for ensuring the 17-mile, 60-year-old pipeline continues carrying fuel safely.

The latest inspection highlights the 11 weakest points in the pipeline.  Two occur at the northern end of the fuel line at MCAS Miramar - where one location has 54 percent metal loss and the other 45 percent metal loss.

A quarter-mile north of the San Diego River (near Interstate 5), 45 percent of the pipe is eroded.

The largest cluster of metal loss is La Playa - along the Point Loma bay front.  Three of the weakest points, according the inspection report, are at that location.

"This report indicates that there are things that need to be repaired but the report also indicates there's no imminent catastrophic failure," Adams said.

The Navy has spent millions repairing the pipeline since 2009 when Team 10 first reported on its age and condition.

Adams said there are plans which include spending $27 million on maintenance and pipeline relocation.

The plan includes moving the pipeline, starting in 2015.  Most of the work involves moving a three-mile section under Rosecrans Street.


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